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Folklore of Wales

de Anne Ross

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Wales is a Celtic country and the Celts have always treasured oral learning and recitation. Indeed they have a passion for committing facts to memory rather than relying on the written word. So it is no surprise, as we can see from Anne Ross's study, that Welsh folklore and story-telling is so rich and varied. In addition to examining the part played by the medieval church in this oral tradition, individual chapters cover legends associated with place-names; calendar customs; giants and monsters; omens and second sight; witches, ghosts and faries; supernatural birds and animals; folk healing and herbal remedies. The landscape is studded with the remains of ancient monuments, which are seen as the creation of gods and heroes. Every lake had its legend, whether it be inhabited by a grim, monstrous afanc, or by a beautiful, enchanted maiden, or maybe harbours a drowned settlement where the bell still tolls to warm of approaching storms. Giants stalk the land, while faries can be dangerous, hostile and demanding propitiation. Omens of potential marriage partners were avidly sought by girls, while ghostly death-lights - corpse candles - could be seen moving relentlessly towards the person who was doomed to death. A whole world of the past is to be found in this rich treasure house of inherited lore.… (mais)
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This coverage of the general Celtic folklore in relation to Welsh mythology and legend is not bad. It covers a wider than what probably would be possible scope of such folklore in the limitations of its length. Anne writes with a personal reference to much of her subject matter having visited the places she mentions and retelling the stories she is told by people she knows. The let down is the lack of consistent referencing throughout, possibly a publishing flaw, but I struggled to make note of where the material came from and some explanation of the original intention. The numeric referencing without text became obscure. Sometimes I didn't know whether Anne was paraphrasing a written text or writing verbatim. The only other issue I had with the book as a whole was that it is written like a dissertation and not an analysis, the need for an ambiguous conclusion on partly contemporary views I felt unnecessary, indeed I felt there need not be a conclusion at all. The last niggling thing is that Anne writes that examples will follow or details will be mentioned further along and they are so minimal it might not have been worth telling the reader so.

However like a lot of contemporary writing on such things I feel it necessary to divine the source, but Anne reproduces lovely tales she has garnered from people she has spoken to, so perhaps at the end of the day, she upholds and contributes to the oral tradition that is the focus of the book in the first place. ( )
  RupertOwen | Apr 27, 2021 |
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Wales is a Celtic country and the Celts have always treasured oral learning and recitation. Indeed they have a passion for committing facts to memory rather than relying on the written word. So it is no surprise, as we can see from Anne Ross's study, that Welsh folklore and story-telling is so rich and varied. In addition to examining the part played by the medieval church in this oral tradition, individual chapters cover legends associated with place-names; calendar customs; giants and monsters; omens and second sight; witches, ghosts and faries; supernatural birds and animals; folk healing and herbal remedies. The landscape is studded with the remains of ancient monuments, which are seen as the creation of gods and heroes. Every lake had its legend, whether it be inhabited by a grim, monstrous afanc, or by a beautiful, enchanted maiden, or maybe harbours a drowned settlement where the bell still tolls to warm of approaching storms. Giants stalk the land, while faries can be dangerous, hostile and demanding propitiation. Omens of potential marriage partners were avidly sought by girls, while ghostly death-lights - corpse candles - could be seen moving relentlessly towards the person who was doomed to death. A whole world of the past is to be found in this rich treasure house of inherited lore.

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